Santa Fe National Forest Plans Pile Burns to Reduce Fuels, Improve Forest Resilience

SANTA FE, NM – Nov. 5, 2020 – Fire managers on the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) are monitoring conditions on the ground to find potential windows to burn piles of woody debris in several previously thinned areas across the forest. Forest restoration treatments, including thinning and prescribed fire, help reduce hazardous fuels, improve wildlife habitat, and create healthier, more resilient forests and watersheds.

Fire managers will implement the pile burns only if conditions, including fuel moisture levels, air quality and forecasted weather, are favorable for successful implementation. The SFNF will also take a risk-informed approach to managing the prescribed pile burns during COVID-19. Each prescribed burn is designed to meet specific objectives and will be managed with firefighter and public safety as the first priority.

The planned pile burn projects by district are:

Coyote Ranger District:

  • The 96 piles – 80 acres off NM Highway 96 between mile markers 23 and 27. Smoke would be visible along NM Highway 96.

Cuba Ranger District:

  • Sanchez piles – 90 acres off Forest Road (FR) 505. Smoke would be visible from NM Highway 112, Llaves, El Vado and Tierra Amarilla.
  • Ojitos piles – 379 acres off FR 531 on the Middle and South Fork Ojitos. Smoke would be visible from NM Highway 126, Rancho de Chaparral, Seven Springs and Fenton Lake.

Española Ranger District:

  • Pacheco Canyon piles– 106 acres south of FR 102 and west of the Vigil Land Grant. Smoke would be visible from US Route 84/285, Tesuque, Rio en Medio, Chupadero and Pojoaque.
  • Hyde Park piles – 200 acres south of NM Highway 475 and west of Black Canyon Campground. Smoke would be visible from NM Highway 475, Hyde State Park and Santa Fe.  

Jemez Ranger District:

  • A total of 2,000 acres of slash piles located on Cat Mesa off FR 135, Pino West off FR 10, East Fork off NM Highway 4 and the Jemez Falls/East fork trail, and the San Diego wildland-urban interface (WUI) near Jemez Springs. Smoke would be visible from US Route 550, Cañon, Jemez Pueblo, Jemez Springs, Sierra Los Pinos and La Cueva.
  • The half-acre Thompson Ridge slash pit at the end of FR 106 just north of the community of Thompson Ridge. Smoke would be visible from Jemez Springs, Jemez Pueblo, Gilman, La Cueva, Los Alamos, NM Highway 4 and US Route 550.

Pecos/Las Vegas District:

  • La Cueva piles– 50 acres north of the community of La Cueva along FR 375. Smoke would be visible from Interstate 25, La Cueva, Glorieta and Pecos.
  • Rowe Mesa slash unit – 100 acres on Rowe Mesa off of FR 324. Smoke would be visible from Interstate 25, Pecos, Rowe, Villanueva, Bernal, San Jose, San Juan, San Isidro, Ilfeld, Glorieta, El Dorado, and La Cueva.

Prescribed fire is part of a science-based framework for managing ponderosa pine and dry mixed-conifer forests like the SFNF to reduce the risk of high-severity wildfire and allow low-intensity fire to play its natural role in a frequent-fire ecosystem.

The SFNF manages prescribed fires in compliance with New Mexico state regulations on air quality and smoke management. Smoke-sensitive individuals and people with respiratory problems or heart disease are encouraged to take precautionary measures. Information on air quality and protecting your health can be found online at the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT) website. Information on the Forest Stewards Guild’s HEPA Filter Loan Program is available here.

All fire updates will be posted on the SFNF website, New Mexico Fire Information website and on the Santa Fe National Forest Facebook page and Twitter @SantafeNF.         

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